Home About Exhibitors Location Fees Agenda Students Credits FAQ 

Fall conference header

About Our Presenters

Charles Barrett, PhD, NCSP

Charles A. Barrett, PhD, NCSP, a district-level administrator in Virginia, practiced as a school psychologist for 13 years at the elementary and secondary levels. He serves as an adjunct lecturer at several universities, where he is actively involved in the training and development of future school psychologists. Dr. Barrett was named School Psychologist of the Year by the Virginia Academy of School Psychologists and received the Rookie of the Year Award from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP). His past leadership positions within NASP include co-chair of the Social Justice Task Force and African American Subcommittee, chair of the Multicultural Affairs and Social Justice Committees, and Virginia Delegate to the NASP Leadership Assembly. Dr. Barrett serves on the editorial boards of School Psychology Review and School Psychology. He is a frequent speaker and workshop presenter for educators, families, and community organizations. His website is www.charlesbarrett.org.

Rebecca Branstetter, PhD

Rebecca Branstetter, Ph.D., is a school psychologist, speaker, and author on a mission to help children thrive by supporting educators, mental health providers, and families avoid burnout and co-thrive with students. She is the founder of The Thriving Students Collective and Thrive Hive TV‚ and online platforms for boosting the mental health and learning needs of children. She is also the author of "The School Psychologist's Survival Guide" and the "Thriving School Psychologist." A sought-after speaker and national media expert, Rebecca's expertise has appeared in various publications, including Huffington Post, Washington Post, NPR, CNN, and Parents Magazine. Dr. Branstetter and her husband are proud parents to two daughters (and two seriously fluffy husky dogs) in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Megan Cardin, MA

Megan Cardin began serving as School Psychology Consultant at the NC Department of Public Instruction in July 2023. Prior to assuming this position, Megan worked as a school psychologist for 19 years, all of which were in eastern North Carolina school districts. She served Nash County Public Schools as Lead School Psychologist and MTSS Coordinator for 14 years, supervising 12 school psychologist interns and supporting the growth of a strong, cohesive team of school psychologists. Megan also worked for Wilson County Schools for 4 years and completed her internship with Brunswick County Schools.Megan is a graduate of the Wake County Public School System, NC State University, and attended graduate school at the University of South Carolina. She lives in Wilson with her husband and their two kids, ages 20 (attending Warren Wilson College in Asheville) and 16 (attending Wilson Early College Academy).


ChatGPT is a Large Language Model developed by OpenAI and published in 2022.

Milton J. Dehn, EdD 

Milton J. Dehn, Ed.D., was a practicing school psychologist and an Associate Professor and School Psychology Program Director at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse until his retirement. Currently, he is the test development project director for Schoolhouse Educational Services. His interests include assessment of cognitive abilities, memory, dyslexia, and executive functions and using a pattern of strengths and weaknesses to identify specific learning disabilities.

Jake Finan, EdS

Jake Finan, EdS has been employed as a school psychologist for the past ten years, serving Wake County for the past seven years and Cleveland County for three years before that. His "School Psych Nerd" video series on digital tools for school psychologists has racked up roughly 50,000 views. He serves as NCSPA Treasurer, loves improv comedy, The Legends of Zelda, and most of all, his son Teddy. 

Kara Finch, EdD, HS-BCP

Dr. Kara Finch is a native of Union County, North Carolina. She is an alumna of Stanly Community College where she received an Associate in Arts degree in Human Services Technology. She received a Bachelor of Science in Human Services from Gardner Webb University, Master of Arts in Gerontology from UNC Charlotte, and Doctor of Education in Higher Education Executive Leadership from Wingate University. Kara has over 17 years of experience in the human services field. She has held various positions in substance use treatment, aging services, administration, and adult protective services. Kara is currently the Dean of Public Services and Program Head of Human Services Technology at Stanly Community College. Kara is current President of the North Carolina Organization for Human Services. Kara is a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor and certified QPR Suicide Prevention instructor. She is a dedicated advocate of effective and appropriate mental health and substance use treatment, suicide prevention, adoption, and foster care. Kara has been married to her husband, Creig for 18 years. They live in Stanly County with their four children.

Aaron J. Fischer, PhD, BCBA-D, LP, LBA

Dr. Fischer is an associate professor of school psychology, adjunct associate professor of psychiatry, and director of the University of Utah Huntsman Mental Health Institute's School Mental Health Collaborative. He is a Licensed Psychologist and Licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst. He has worked with individuals with mental and behavioral health concerns, and their families for over 15 years. His research focuses on the intersection of innovative technology and school mental health, specifically telehealth applications to support diverse students, caregivers, and educators.

Matt C. Hoskins, EdD

Dr. Matt Hoskins is an Integrated Academic and Behavior Systems Consultant within NC Department of Public Instruction (NC DPI). He has also served as Assistant Director in the Exceptional Children Division of NCDPI. Prior to working for DPI, Dr. Hoskins was a school psychologist in Guilford and Ashe counties.

Jennie B. Hyde, PhD

Jennie Hyde, PhD is a lead psychologist with Wake County Schools. In this role, she also serves as the district's Coping Cat coordinator. She earned her masters and specialists degrees in school psychology from Appalachian State and her PhD at North Carolina State University. She has served various roles within NCSPA and currently is on the Equity Committee.

Carol Kelly, PhD

Carol Kelly, Ph.D. is a native of Chapel Hill and past president of the National Association of School Psychologists. In addition to her many years as a school psychologist, she worked as a school principal. Her current passion is national and state guardianship reform efforts, promoting less restrictive alternatives and quality of life for those with cognitive challenges and disabilities.

Sarah Kelly, MA/CAS

Sarah Kelly is a school psychologist with Guilford County Schools with over 15 years of experience working with the preschool population. In addition to providing comprehensive psychological services for the preschool population, Sarah is part of the district MTSS PreK Working group and the District Autism Support Team. Both teams provide district guidance and support around strategic planning for supporting a range of student needs.

Rebby Kern

Rebby Kern (they/them) is a biracial, nonbinary queer person whose personal experience and professional career has placed them in the work of opening hearts and minds to equity, inclusion and action. Rebby serves as the Director of Education Policy at Equality NC, advocating for and investing in young changemakers, supporting policy reform and implementing LGBTQ-inclusive training and professional development across North Carolina. Rebby is the board chair of Youth Outright, empowering LGBTQIA youth and young adults in western NC. In 2021 Rebby was welcomed as a new member of the Youth Action Council, an appointment by Governor Roy Cooper for the state of North Carolina. Expanding their work across the nation, Rebby is a Nationally Certified Trainer for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Welcoming Schools programs and an Expert Trainer for All Children, All Families. Each program creates space for LGBTQ+ youth, their families and youth livelihood. Rebby serves as a board member for the Fitness Inclusion Action Committee, a project of the Out Foundation, creating more welcoming fitness and wellness spaces.

Celeste M. Malone, PhD, MS

Celeste M. Malone, PhD, MS, is an associate professor of school psychology at Howard University. She received her master’s degree in school counseling from Johns Hopkins University and her doctorate in school psychology from Temple University, and she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in child clinical and pediatric psychology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Celeste’s primary research interest relates to multicultural and diversity issues embedded in the training and practice of school psychology. Specifically, her work addresses the development of multicultural competence through education and training, diversification of the profession of school psychology, and the relationship between culturally responsive practice and pre-K–12 student outcomes. Related to her interest in professional issues in school psychology, Celeste has continuously held leadership positions in psychology professional associations and has been recognized for her ongoing leadership and commitment to social justice in psychology by presidential recognitions from NASP, the Maryland School Psychologists’ Association, and APA Division 16 School Psychology. Celeste served as the 2022–2023 NASP President and, notably, was the second person of color to ever serve in this role.

Christian F. Mauro, PhD 

Christian F. Mauro, Ph.D. is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Division of Medical Psychology.  Dr. Mauro is the Director of the Psychosocial Treatment Clinic where he supervises and trains graduate students, psychology interns, and psychiatry residents on empirically supported psychosocial treatments for children and adolescents.  He received his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from Miami University (Ohio) and completed his internship at Duke University Medical Center.  Dr. Mauro specializes in individual and family therapy for children with anxiety disorders such as separation anxiety disorder, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and generalized anxiety disorder.

Sam O. Ortiz, PhD

Dr. Ortiz is Professor of Psychology and Director of Graduate Programs in School Psychology at St. John's University, New York. He holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Southern California and a credential in school psychology with postdoctoral training in bilingual school psychology from San Diego State University. He has served as Visiting Professor and Research Fellow at Nagoya University, Japan, as Vice President for Professional Affairs of APA Division 16 (School Psychology), as member and Chair of APA's, Committee on Psychological Tests and Assessment, as member of the Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education, as representative on the New York State Committee of Practitioners on ELL and LEP Students, and as member of APA Presidential Task Force on Educational Disparities. Dr. Ortiz serves or has served on various editorial boards including Journal of School Psychology, School Psychology Quarterly, and Journal of Applied School Psychology and is a member of the Society for the Study of School Psychology (SSSP). Dr. Ortiz has published widely on a range of topics and is a frequent presenter at professional conferences as well as an internationally recognized expert on issues involving nondiscriminatory assessment, evaluation of English learners, Cross-Battery Assessment (XBA), and specific learning disabilities. He is author of the new Ortiz Picture Vocabulary Acquisition Test (Ortiz PVAT) - the first test with dual norms designed specifically for English learners and English speakers. He is also primary co-author of the Cross-Battery Assessment Software System (X-BASS v2.0), the Culture-Language Interpretive Matrix (C-LIM), and co-author of the Intervention Library: Finding Resources for Students and Teachers (IL:FIRST v1.0). His books include "Assessment of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students: A practical guide" which is currently under revision, and "Essentials of Cross-Battery Assessment, 3rd Edition." Dr. Ortiz is bilingual (Spanish) and bicultural (Puerto Rican).

Don Phipps, EdD

Dr. Don Phipps joined the Caldwell County Schools as superintendent in July 2018. Throughout his career, he has been a school psychologist, non-profit director of research and development, university professor and department chair, assistant principal, principal, executive director, and superintendent. He has earned the following degrees: Bachelor’s degree from Methodist College (now Methodist University) in Psychology and Management Psychology; Master’s degree and Certificate of Advanced Study from Appalachian State University in School Psychology; Education Doctorate from Appalachian State University in Education Leadership; and a Master’s of Education from UNC-Charlotte in Instructional Systems Technology. Dr. Phipps is actively involved in public education locally and across the state. He also serves on several local and state-level committees and boards. He has served as the President of the Northeast North Carolina Superintendents RESA and is currently the Chair of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Testing Compliance Commission. Dr. Phipps is married to Nancy and they have four children and two grandchildren.

Elizabeth M. Power, EdD

Elizabeth M. Power, EdD, is a school psychologist at Montgomery County Public Schools and adjunct professor at the University of Alabama. Prior to her current position, Dr. Power worked as a full-time professor for five years; however, she missed having direct contact with students so she chose to return to practicing instead of teaching. Dr. Power has worked as a school psychologist since 2011. She has contributed to multiple written publications, and is most proud of her recent textbook publication "Understanding the Biological Basis of Behavior: Developing Evidence-Based Interventions for Clinical, Counseling and School Psychologists." In addition to her written work, Dr. Power has presented research at various state and national conferences. She enjoys researching applied neuropsychology, school psychology training practices, and inclusion in school psychology programs. 

Beth Rice, MA, CAS 

Beth is a co-founder of SEL4NC and a Specialist for State Projects at the SERVE Center, where she focuses on alternative education, adult SEL, and building communities for MTSS and Career Accelerator Programs. In building communities, Beth values the opportunity to create safe spaces where diversity, equity, and inclusion are positioned as a priority. These priorities are central to our response-ability (or ability to respond responsibly) as leaders.Beth joined the SERVE Center from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, where she led SEL while on the State MTSS Team. She launched the NC SEL Implementation Team and co-led the NC SEL and Educational Equity Project. While at DPI, Beth supported the Secondary MTSS Community of Practice, launched Check and Connect, and co-led the School Mental Health Initiative's Continuum Workgroup. Additional focus areas include school mental health, secondary implementation, and building capacity through engaging professional development and coaching. Beth is a School Psychologist and uses facilitation and coaching skills from Adaptive Schools and Cognitive Coaching.She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Leading and Learning in Organizations (LLO) at Vanderbilt University.

Melinda Sampson

Melinda Sampson is a 2009 graduate of East Carolina University with a bachelor of arts in communication.She began a career in journalism in 2011 with Cooke Communications, LLC, becoming the editor of a weekly newspaper located in Belhaven, North Carolina. In 2013, she became the associate editor for a bi-weekly newspaper in Williamston, North Carolina, and by 2014, she became the assistant editor at a daily newspaper in Goldsboro, North Carolina.In 2014, she visited several migrant farmworker camps in Wilson, Wayne and Lenoir counties where she discovered migrant farmworkers who came to the country under false promises and then were forced or coerced into working under dangerous and abusive conditions and living in relatively isolated and wretched labor camps.It was through those migrant farmworkers’ stories that her interest in human trafficking was born. In that vein, she wanted to become involved with NC Stop Human Trafficking. Sampson became the Community Outreach Coordinator for NC Stop Human Trafficking in June of 2018.She has led sessions to empower caregivers to keep their children safe online and she has trained hundreds of law enforcement officers about the reality of human trafficking. Sampson has developed a curriculum for health care providers to recognize and respond to human trafficking, as well. She is a certified N.C. Victims Services Practitioner, graduate of the Pitt County-Greenville Leadership Institute, the recipient of the 2020 ECU 40Under40, and volunteers with an organization that works to respond to victims of violence.

Andrew P. Smiler, PhD

Andrew Smiler, PhD, is an author and licensed therapist with expertise in adolescent boys, men, and masculinity. He is the author of “Is Masculinity Toxic?: A Primer for the 21st Century“, the award winning “Dating and Sex: A Guide for the 21st Century Teen Boy,” and co-author of “The Masculine Self (6th ed)” with renowned researcher Chris Kilmartin. He also wrote “Challenging Casanova: Beyond the stereotype of the promiscuous young male.” Dr. Smiler addressed the question “What does it mean to be ‘man enough’?” at TEDxGreensboro (2020). His approach to therapeutic work with boys is illustrated in the training video “Building a Therapeutic Alliance with Adolescent Boys.” Dr. Smiler is a past president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Men and Masculinities (SPSMM), and has received their Distinguished Professional Service award (2016) and Researcher of the Year award (2007). He has also served as their chair of Communications and Media committee (2014-2016). He is a past president of Male Survivor: National Organization Against Male Sexual Victimization, where he also served as treasurer. Dr. Smiler also served as the Editor-in-Chief of Online Publications for the Society for Research on Adolescence (2017-2020). His 2004 article “Thirty years after the discovery of gender: Psychological concepts and measures of masculinity” is among the 20 most referenced articles in the academic journal Sex Roles. As a therapist, Dr. Smiler helps teenage boys and adult men understand themselves and find better ways to communicate with the important people in their life. In addition to issues such as depression, anxiety, and family conflict, he also works with clients around issues related to gender identity, sexual orientation, and other issues related to sexuality. He conducts both individual therapy and family therapy. Dr. Smiler received his PhD in Developmental Psychology from the University of New Hampshire, an MA in Clinical Psychology from Towson University, and BS degrees in Psychology and Mathematics from Virginia Tech.

Emily Sturkie, MA, NCSP

Emily Sturkie is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist in Wake County Public School System (WCPSS). Emily earned her masters and specialist degrees in school psychology from Appalachian State University. In WCPSS, she is a Coping Cat Trainer and is on the Autism Team. Emily was previously the NCSPA Public Relations Co-Chair and served on the Fall Conference Planning committee.

Lori E. Unruh, PhD 

Lori Unruh is the director of the school psychology graduate program at Western Carolina University. She spent 15 years as a practitioner (Arizona and North Carolina) before becoming a graduate educator. She has been at Western Carolina University for 18 years. Lori has been actively involved with NCSPA as secretary, President Elect, President, Past President, NASP Delegate, Leadership and Strategic Planning Committee chair, and currently serves on the Strategic Planning Advisory Council. Lori has also been on the NASP Board of Directors for 12 years with her current position being Strategic Planning Coordinator. She is the NASP representative on the School Psychology Leadership Roundtable and in that role has been on the planning committee for the development of the 2023-2024 Futures Conference. 

Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, PhD

Dr. Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the National Association of School Psychologists and a nationally recognized expert on school mental health and school safety. In her current role, she works collaboratively with public policy makers, educational and health professionals, school leaders and elected officials to advance evidence based policy and practice to support the academic achievement, social emotional development, and mental and behavioral health of all students. Prior to joining the NASP staff Kelly practiced as a school psychologist in Loudoun County Public Schools (VA). Dr. Strobach has developed, authored, and coauthored numerous articles and resources, including NASP’s Framework for Safe and Successful Schools and has presented nationally on issues related to school safety, school mental health, effective discipline policies, and the relationship between education policy and school practices. Kelly earned her BA in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her MA and Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in School Psychology from Appalachian State University, and her PhD in Education Policy at George Mason University.

Amanda M. VanDerHeyden, PhD

Dr. Amanda VanDerHeyden is a policy adviser and thought leader who actively conducts research focused on improving learning outcomes for students. In addition to publishing ten books and over 100 scholarly articles and chapters, she regularly delivers webinar, panel and keynote sessions, including addresses to state school psychology associations and state departments of education in 36 states, Singapore, China, Portugal, and Australia.

She has also served as a panel member for NIH, standing panel member for IES at the U.S. Department of Education, an adviser and reviewer for NCII, USAID, the IRIS center, the Dyslexia Foundation, and numerous state departments of education. Dr. VanDerHeyden has served on a number of boards, including the RTI Advisory Board for the National Center for Learning Disabilities and SEDL, one of 10 regional laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Education (since merged with the American Institutes for Research).

Dr. VanDerHeyden has authored a number of policy guides and position statements, and delivered testimony on the use of Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) MTSS and Response to Intervention (RTI) to identify students for special education. She is credited with developing models of academic screening that are widely used in schools, conducting innovative research in mathematics screening and progress monitoring using mastery measurement, and the creation of SpringMath. Dr. VanDerHeyden is President of Education Research & Consulting in Daphne, Alabama, and has a faculty affiliation with the Wheelock College of Education at Boston University.

Rebecca M. Whalen, MA, CCC-SLP

Becky Whalen is a certified speech language pathologist, earning her BA degree at Michigan State University in 2014 and her MA degree from Wayne State University in 2016. As North Carolina’s Assessment Consultant with Pearson, Ms. Whalen provides consultation and training to support best practice use of Pearson’s clinical assessment products. Her clinical interests include early language disorders, autism, and executive functions.

Mary Whitehouse, PhD
Mary Whitehouse is a lead psychologist with Wake County Schools. As part of her role, she serves as the district's coordinator for the universal screener for Social/Emotional Learning and Behavioral Health. She finally retired from being a student after finishing her PhD at NC State University. Mary was previously the NCSPA Legislative and Public Policy Co-Chair.
Stacy Williams, PhD
Dr. Stacy Williams is the Director of New York State Education Department multi-tiered system of supports-integrated (MTSS-I) center located at the University at Albany, an adjunct associate professor and Director of Field Training at Marist College, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist in New York State. As a founding member of Creating Inclusive Communities (CIC) and inaugural director of Marist College Diversity Leadership Institute (MCDLI) at Marist, Dr. Williams and her colleagues have provided diversity and equity training to faculty and staff to support diversity and inclusion activities in the classroom and in the wider campus community. Dr. Williams regularly provides training in social justice, creating inclusive classrooms, academic and behavioral interventions, data-based decision-making for teachers, and university/school partnerships. At the national level, Dr. Williams serves on the Trainers of School Psychologists (TSP) executive board as the President. Additionally, Dr. Williams mentors students and early career faculty of color through the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) mentoring program. At the state level, Dr. Williams is the Fiscal Advisor for the New York Association of School Psychologists, mentors school psychology candidates, and develops content for the state association annual conference.